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Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the military alliance must "engage politically" with China despite its growing assertiveness, telling Politico's "Global Insider" podcast: "We don't regard China as an adversary or an enemy."

Why it matters: NATO, like the U.S., has been careful about the language it uses to describe a rising China — stressing the need for cooperation while acknowledging that Beijing's global influence, technological prowess and military activity in the South China Sea pose real security challenges.

  • NATO, which was founded in 1949 to confront the Soviet Union, formally addressed the threat posed by China's military ambitions for the first time in a leaders' communique in July.
  • The move drew pushback at the time from French President Emmanuel Macron, who told reporters that "in my book, China isn’t part of the Atlantic geography, or maybe my map has a problem."

What they're saying: Stoltenberg confirmed that NATO is "absolutely" seeking an arms control treaty with China, calling Beijing "a global power" that must take on "global responsibilities."

  • Like President Biden, Stoltenberg also stressed the importance of engaging with China on climate change.
  • But he acknowledged the reality that China now has the world's second-largest defense budget, largest navy and is investing heavily in modern weapons technologies. "All of this matters for our security. And therefore NATO has to respond to that," Stoltenberg said.
  • "NATO is the most successful alliance in history because we have been able to change when the world is changing, constantly adapting. And that's exactly what we do now," he added.

Driving the news: Stoltenberg was pressed on France's furious reaction to the new Indo-Pacific security partnership between the U.S., U.K. and Australia, which cost the French a multibillion-dollar submarine contract.

  • "I understand that France is disappointed. At the same time, all NATO allies agreed as late as June this year that we need to work more closely with what we call the Asia-Pacific partners," Stoltenberg said.
  • The former Norwegian prime minister dismissed the idea — pushed aggressively by Macron, especially in the wake of the submarine fallout — that Europe should develop its own defense capabilities outside of NATO.
  • "I welcome EU efforts on the defense. But my message and something I often discuss with the European political leaders is that EU cannot be an alternative, cannot replace, NATO. EU cannot defend Europe," he said. "Just look at the numbers: 80% of NATO's defense expenditure comes from non-EU allies."

Go deeper: China's record military flybys test Biden on Taiwan

Go deeper

15 hours ago - World

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN on Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Oct 27, 2021 - World

Top general: China's hypersonic missile test "very close" to a "Sputnik moment"

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Wednesday that China's test of a hypersonic missile is "very concerning" and "very close" to the kind of "Sputnik moment" that triggered the Space Race during the Cold War.

Why it matters: The comments by America's top uniformed general underscore the depths of U.S. concerns about China's rapid military expansion and development of advanced weaponry.

Oct 26, 2021 - Technology

FCC votes to halt China Telecom operations in U.S.

A meeting room in the Federal Communications Commission headquarters. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to revoke authorization for China Telecom's U.S. subsidiary to operate in America, citing national security concerns.

Why it matters: The state-owned China Telecom is one of the largest telecommunications companies based in China. It has provided services in the U.S. for nearly 20 years but must now cease operations within 60 days.